QUINCY -- The ever-shifting momentum finally saddled up with the Quincy Notre Dane football team for good because a freshman saw the chance to make a play and didn't waste the opportunity.
Coming off the right edge nearly untouched, Dalton Miller blocked a Rock Island Alleman punt and recovered it at the Pioneers' 7-yard line with 9 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter Friday night.
Two plays later, Lake Bergman scored his first career touchdown on a 2-yard plunge as the Raiders rallied for a 21-17 victory at Advance Physical Therapy Field.
"I saw the same set up I saw the previous two punts," Miller said. "I knew that guy could not guard me. So I blitzed right off the line, shed the running back and hit it right off my forearm."
He beat teammate Grant Hyer to the ball for the recovery as well.
"That put us in great field position," Miller said. "And we capitalized on it."
The Raiders had to show some moxie to get to that point.
Trailing 10-7 at halftime, QND fell into a two-possession hole when Alleman's Nate Sheets ran the ball on five straight plays, churning out 65 yards and capping the drive with an 11-yard touchdown for a 17-7 lead with 5:18 remaining in the third quarter.
On the ensuing possession, the Raiders called a fade route for Hyer coming out of a timeout on second and 5 from the Pioneers' 34-yard line. When the cornerback took away the corner fade, Hyer adjusted his route to the inside and caught a sizzling strike from quarterback Ike Wiley for a 34-yard touchdown to make it a one-possession game again.
"We're growing up every minute, every practice," Hyer said. "It's exciting to see this team develop. The way we responded tonight is just another sign we're becoming more mature players."
The defense did its part in that regard as much as anyone.
Over the final four possessions of the fourth quarter, Alleman managed just 12 total yards, punting three times and throwing an interception on its final offensive play. Prior to that, the Pioneers had churned out 240 yards.
Alleman also was limited to 2 yards passing in the second half as quarterback Zach Carpita completed 1 of 8 passes. He was 6 of 9 for 115 yards in the first half.
"Our guys stepped up when we needed them the most," QND coach Jack Cornell said. "I don't think there is anybody we lean on or look to as you might say. It's everybody and everybody. At the crucial moments, it's everybody making plays."
Like a freshman or a junior who had two varsity carries prior to his touchdown plunge.
But on second and goal from the 2-yard line, QND offensive coordinator Bob Sheffield had no problem giving Bergman the ball. He ran behind his pads and powered his way over the left side for the go-ahead touchdown.
"It's a great feeling," said Bergman, who was one of six backs used as the Raiders churned out 179 yards on the ground. "I was worried I was going to let them down and not get the touchdown. I ended up punching it in, which is an awesome feeling."
It's the jolt needed to get the Raiders focusing in on Peoria Central, which visits QND next Friday after winning its first two games by a combined score of 152-44.
"It gives a confidence boost going into next week, where we really need to have a good week of practice," Hyer said. "It's going to be another tough, tough task. Having momentum behind you by starting off with two wins is a big deal."
Quincy Notre Dame 21, Rock Island Alleman 17
11 First downs 7
32-135 Rushes-yards 34-179
117 Passing yards 100
252 Total yards 279
7-16-2 Comp-Att-Int 6-12-2
3-17 Penalties-yards 6-45
0-0 Fumbles-lost 0-0
Alleman 0 10 7 0--17
QND 0 7 7 7--21
Q--Johnny Ohnemus 66 run (Ethan Beroiza kick), 6:28
A--Nate Sheets 66 pass from Zach Carpita (Sean O'Hern kick), 4:29
A--O'Hern 28 FG, :32
A--Sheets 11 run (O'Hern kick), 5:18
Q--Grant Hyer 34 pass from Ike Wiley (Beroiza kick), 3:38
Q--Lake Bergman 2 run (Beroiza kick), 8:56
RUSHING--Alleman, Sheets 19-116, Carpita 10-14, Jake Mattecheck 2-4, Jack Patting 1-1. QND, Ohnemus 14-98, Jack Marth 8-55, Bergman 3-14, Ben Kasparie 1-6, Ryan Cafun 2-5, Wiley 6-1.
PASSING--Alleman, Carpita 7-16-2-117. QND, Wiley 6-12-2-100.
RECEIVING--Alleman, Sheets 2-68, Mattecheck 2-19, Patting 1-17, KJackson Marx 1-8, Caleb Harer 1-5. QND, Hyer 4-68, Marth 1-23, Josh Sheffield 1-9.